Parents and teachers today face a swirl of conflicting theories about child rearing and educational practice. Indeed, current guides are contradictory, oversimplified, and at odds with current scientific knowledge.
Now, in Awakening Children's Minds, Laura Berk cuts through the confusion of competing theories, offering a new way of thinking about the roles of parents and teachers and how they can make a difference in children's lives. This is the first book to bring to a general audience, in lucid prose richly laced with examples, truly state-of-the-art thinking about child rearing and early education.
Berk's central message is that parents and teachers contribute profoundly to the development of competent, caring, well-adjusted children. In particular, she argues that adult-child communication in shared activities is the wellspring of psychological development. These dialogues enhance language skills, reasoning ability, problem-solving strategies, the capacity to bring action under the control of thought, and the child's cultural and moral values. Berk explains how children weave the voices of more expert cultural members into dialogues with themselves. When puzzling, difficult, or stressful circumstances arise, children call on this private speech to guide and control their thinking and behavior.
In addition to providing clear roles for parents and teachers, Berk also offers concrete suggestions for creating and evaluating quality educational environments--at home, in child care, in preschool, and in primary school--and addresses the unique challenges of helping children with special needs.
Parents, Berk writes, need a consistent way of thinking about their role in children's lives, one that can guide them in making effective child-rearing decisions. Awakening Children's Minds gives us the basic guidance we need to raise caring, thoughtful, intelligent children.
About the Author
Laura E. Berk is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Illinois State University. She is a leading authority on early childhood development and education, with more than thirty years of research experience and numerous publications, including three popular texts and articles in publications such as Psychology Today and Scientific American. She lives in Normal, Illinois.
"Berk minces no words in this important book on a much-debated subject.... Her lucid insights are complemented by examples throughout the text. Berk's application of sociocultural theory makes this an essential title in the child development collections of academic and public libraries, and her
suggestions about how to structure home and school environments make this an invaluable reference for school administrators and daycare operators as well."--Library Journal (starred review)
"Berk illustrates her concepts with observed dialogues and cites many studies and examples. Instructive and even inspiring...educators and motivated parents will find much to explore."--Publishers Weekly
"This is one incredible book! A veritable college course for parents on children's mental development, richly detailed, persuasively reasoned, and sensitively conveyed. Its contents are directly linked to the explosive growth in scientific knowledge in developmental psychology yet rendered in a
style not at all stuffy or pompous. Among the best advice the science of child psychology has to offer, this book contains not a shred of nonsense, folklore, or unscientific advice.... Exceptionally informative, this books strikes just the right balance among the various influences that determine a
child's mental development. It does so without talking down to parents, treating them instead as the experts they are on their children yet who are in search of further information on what science has to tell us about our children's development."--Russell A. Barkley, Professor of Psychiatry and
Neurology, University of Massachusetts Medical School
"In this wonderful volume Berk outlines some oftoday's most exciting ideas about child development. She goes well beyond theory, however, by providing insightful suggestions for concrete practice. This is a powerful, yet accessible text by a major author that promises to have a major impact for
years to come on how we go about teaching and parenting."--James V. Wertsch, Professor and Chair, Department of Education, Professor, Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis
"A refreshingly practical and pragmatic guidebook for parents and teachers of young children. Complex and controversial concepts, such as biological vs. environmental influences, are readily understandable through the use of vignettes, illustrations, and clear explanations. Berk emphasizes the
critical role of adults as she offers insights into young children's thoughts, emotions, and actions and discusses accompanying implications for practice."--Kathy R. Thornburg, Director of the Center for Family Policy and Research, University of Missouri